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Australia’s Bush-fire Epidemic

Australia has some of the most diverse and unique wildlife of anywhere in the world now threatened by ever-growing wildfires. The mainstream media focus primarily on the Koala bear and although the animal is in danger, there are other species which are equally, if not, more so on the verge of extinction due to this national natural disaster.

On December 20, 2019 wildfires began to spread across Australia. At the start, the ‘bush-fires’ consumed 37,000 acres. Damaged wilderness is at a staggering 17.9 million acres according to the NSW Rural Fire Service. 232,000 acres continue to be ravaged by active fires. Firefighting personnel and local individuals are doing their best to help preserve and save the wildlife.

One of the most popular footage shows two Australian teenagers who posted a video on Jan. 8 of this year which show their effort to rescue four koalas, three baby koalas and their mother by placing the animals inside their vehicle.

Other species of wildlife, native to Australia, which are also suffering due to these bushfires are close to extinction. These animals include, but are not limited to, the Australian Rainbow Lorikeet, a type of parrot, with a mere 8,400 found in the wild, the Tiger Quoll which are a small and spotted marsupial with white and light brown fur and whose population ranges around 20,000, the Tasmanian Devil which is a small black marsupial with small fangs which it uses to intimidate rather than to attack and has a population in the range of 15,000 to 50,000 and the Echidna which are quilled animals, similar to the American porcupine with a snout resembling an American Ant Eater and have a population of less than 300,000.

The Australian continent has suffered from hot spots and dry seasons for years. The bushfires as of late 2019 and early 2020 have proven to be some of the worst the nation ever encountered according to the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Along with fire and medical teams, dogs are being employed to rescue koalas during the fires, which sadly are expected to continue for months.

“Often, there are days where the smoke makes it impossible to see two feet in front of you. It becomes hard to breathe. I mostly stay inside until it appears clear enough to go on with daily activities” Johnny Merolla, a local from Sydney, Australia said in an in-person interview.

The U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs advises to “Exercise increased caution in Australia due to natural disaster/bushfires. Some areas have increased risk. Make sure to read the entire Travel Advisory.”

Australian politics falls short on the topic of Climate Change. With at least 27 people dead, 500 million animals and 2,000 homes destroyed by only half of the expected bushfire season, lawmakers are expected to take a stronger stand and implement new regulations to cut greenhouse admissions and coal usage according to VOX. However, government response has remained unencouraging according to The New York Times and the BBC.